MONARCHS ARE RETURNING! OUR RESIDENT DOE--'GATEKEEPER'!
This photo, looking north over the Lost River Valley, was taken February 24, 2019 on WALKABOUT overlooking our farm from the top of the hill pasture above our house to the south. I didn't realize there was a rainbow in the sky until I uploaded the photo to the computer. You can just barely see Coopworth Sheep (little white dots) grazing above the barn (in the center of the photograph) at the edge of the trees and woods.
Our ~200 acres lie at the base of 'Bald Knob'. There is a large 'bald' grassy area that is maintained and used for haymaking resting at the peak of West Mountain. This mountain is a part of the Lost River watershed. It lies on the 'Divide' in the easternmost part of Hardy County, West Virginia 4 miles south of Mathias. We have lived here 39+ years. In fact, we have NOW lived here longer than any one family since the 1850's when deeds were recorded and maintained by the county. The farm elevation is 1800 ft. West Mountain's elevation is either 2615 or 2715 ft., depending on which map you use for reference. It snows most years--sometimes less, sometimes more (...this year far less than most years in the past)! Climate change, geologic cycling, and/or global warming--whatever the causes--are delaying the winter's freeze and lessening the snow fall with each year. Fortunately, the summers remain relatively mild, with daytime temperatures in the 80's-low 90's; and comfortable nighttime temperatures in the 60's-low 70's.
Our 30 sheep and 5 cows graze 50+ acres only. The remaining open and woodland acreage is managed as wildlife habit; we gather just enough firewood from the 'dead and down' trees for our own use. Deer, squirrel, red fox and various song and predator birds thrive here. Coyotes do, as well, but are held at bay (not overtly permitted access to our livestock) by the 'Don't Even Think About It' attitude of our ANATOLIAN Sheep Dogs, "Sissy", "Annie", and little "Mikey"! Our Farm Shepherd, "Woodrow", retired to the porch this summer; He lies by the wood stove when the temperatures drop into the 30's...he turned 16 on the Ides of March and I do believe he's going to live yet another year!!
We have not made hay on the farm for many years. Our shale ground is simply too poor to provide good quality hay for winter feeding. And there is no crop land. We purchase large round bales of orchard grass hay for our few remaining 'Highland coos', the one horse, and her companion donkey. We buy alfalfa hay from the same farmer in nearby Broadway, Virginia, to feed our Coopworth sheep during gestation and lambing. (The horse and donkey are thrilled to get the stems and leftovers!)
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